In the spring of the year 1798, I preached on Lord's day in the assembly room of the state house [KY?]. My son Stephen, who lives in Providence, (Rhode Island), this year paid me a visit, but did not stay long. He went to Cincinnati, (Ohio), to see his brother John. My youngest son William, was then a clerk in my son John's Prothonotary Office. He was anxious to have a collegiate education; and his two brother's [sic] encouraged him in it. He, accordingly, with his brother Stephen, came over to consult me upon it, and I consented. They started for Rhode Island, and went by the way of Cincinnati, and I accompanied them as far as my son Richard's, at Eagle Creek. Here I took my last leave of my son William, who appeared much affected, and, afterwards, said he had taken his last farewell of his Father. They proceeded on their journey and proposed visiting Doctor Thane, whose wife was sister to him. The dear youth reached them, sick with a fever, of which he soon after died. He died, resigned to his fate, and in hopes of a blessed immortality; as I afterwards learnt by letter from my son Stephen. Though his death much affected me, yet when I heard he died resigned, it appeared to me that it was all right; and that God had done all things well.
My sincere wish is, that all my children may live, 'till they are prepared to die; and that my prayers may be redoubled for them, knowing that ere long, both they and myself, must quit this stage of action, and go to judgment. I see now, nothing worth living for; but to be more devoted to God, and the advantage of my family, and the church of God. And, indeed it appears to me latterly, that I have lived beyond my usefulness; but I know I must wait for God's time, when he will unravel all the mysteries of his Providence. I sometimes wonder, why God ever conducted me to Kentucky, when so little fruit or good effect of my poor labours have appeared, at least to myself! why, in this half dead condition, I am yet continued in life! Yet, I have more cause to wonder, that ever God made me instrumental of good, at any time of life, or any where in the world; and that now I should be laid by, as an instrument out of use. 1
The remainder was written by a friend of Gano’s upon the passing of this great man.
The following account of the last days of Mr. Gano, is taken from a letter to one of his children, written by Mr. William Hickman, who was much with, and esteemed by Mr. Gano. The letter, I believe, is nearly, verbatim. Mr. Hickman observes: ''that hearing Mr. Gano had a paralytic shock, he immediately went to see him, and asked him how he did? He answered that he was half dead. I did not then believe he would ever have come out of his house, again, alive. He seemed willing to resign all to God, and to bear what he was pleased to lay on him; wishing the prayers of God's people, and that the travelling preachers would call, converse and preach. At such times, which frequently occurred, he would sit in his chair and exhort to duty, and to flee from vice. His longing, to get amongst his brethren, so raised his spirits, that in about a year, he ventured, in a carriage, to the Town-Fork, Bryants, and other places. When we apprehended his fatigues were too great, while preaching, some friend would support him, when he would preach with renewed ardour.
It was the pleasure of heaven, about this time to visit the state with the out-pouring of his spirit. This blessed harvest of souls, appeared to increase his joys, being desirous of being, as in years past, in the vineyard, although his half dead side forbid it. When a little recovered, he would venture to the meeting house, on horse-back, where he would exhort, preach, pray and give counsel, sound and good, while he was supported by two persons to steady him. At other times he would go to the water side at the administration of the ordinance of baptism, and advocate that mode.
My visits to this father in Zion, being frequent, he one day, wished to have the worship of God attended in his house. I spoke from these words; “Lord help me.” I discovered him to be much in tears, and he appeared much affected. When dismissed, while lying on the bed, he seized my hand, and in an extacy [sic] exclaimed, “The Lord has helped me!" His cup appeared full and running over; and he often expressed a wish to depart, and be with Christ, which was far better; but patience he seemed to crave, and I believe God granted his request; for he had every mark of a soul waiting on God.
On the Lord's day week, before his decease, I was in the pulpit, and observed one of the connections pass hastily across the floor and whisper to another, which led me to think some change had taken place. After worship, I inquired, and heard he was very ill, and near his last. I went to see him, and he appeared much altered, which induced me to think he was near home. He appeared smiling, and in no great misery; nor would he ever own that he was. His appetite failed him, and in the course of that week he wore away much; yet his senses and reason continued. Myself and his family, set up the whole night, and I asked him a number of questions, being desirous of knowing the exercise of his mind. He appeared permanently fixed on Jesus, as the rock of ages. I asked him, what I should request of God in his behalf? His answer was, that he might enjoy his right mind, and be resigned to God's will. His anxious eyes were upon his weeping children. The night before he expired, I went to see him, went to the bed side and took hold of his hand, and asked if he knew me? he motioned in the affirmative. I asked him if he was in much pain? he spoke so as to be heard, and said no. I then asked him, if he wanted to be with Jesus? he said yes! This was the last word, which could be understood, at least, so far as my recollection serves me. I went to prayer with the family and friends, after which, he was taken with a fit, which continued with but little alteration till morning; when business called me away. I bid him farewell in my mind, no more expecting to see him in life. I went to visit another sick person in the course of the day, and called again in the evening, when I found him still breathing. It had been my wish, for years, to close his eyes in death, should I survive him; but another call happening that evening, I left him in the hands of a faithful and able friend, and about ten o'clock of that night, being the 10th, day of August 1804, he got dismission from the church militant to the church triumphant; being in the 78th year of his age.” 2
Lord-willing we will look at the life of another 18th century Baptist in my next post.
Christ, not man, is King!
2) Ibid., p.133-7.